From the magazine

Great southern man – ASTT’s new SA Councillor

Mr Neate was born and raised in South Australia, and it’s where he began his career in the civil construction industry, completing an apprenticeship to become a heavy vehicle mechanic with Domino Industries – now known as Hitachi Construction Equipment.

It was his transition from mechanical engineering to sales, during a period in the mid-1990s when horizontal directional drilling equipment (HDD) became increasingly popular, that engrained him into the trenchless industry.

Mr Neate said that during his life-long career in the trenchless sector he has had a few mentors, but one has particularly stood out for him.

“The main mentor would have to be Stewart Brown. I have known Stewart for a long time and he has given me good advice over that period up until today,” said Mr Neate.

Despite his impressive array of outside hobbies – a Taekwondo black-belt and instructor, a DIY-extraordinaire alongside his wife Kim, bouts of travel and raising four childen – Mr Neate says his life mainly revolves around the Ditch Witch business.

Mr Neate’s passion and dedication to the trenchless industry is evident, and he is positive about the future growth of industry.

“The future for Trenchless Technology is good, if you look back to the beginnings until now; it has grown into an industry of its own right.

The people who are working within the industry today are very experienced, now newcomers have more information to access than ever before,” Mr Neate said.

The importance of the ASTT

The Trenchless Technology industry continues to develop and advance and as this occurs, Mr Neate envisions the role of the ASTT as an entity that will provide members with knowledge, guidance and advice across a range of differing sections in the industry.

“The ASTT assist and provide crucial guidance and this in turn will continue to develop our industry further. Regular communication with all ASTT members, I feel, is paramount to the development of the Trenchless Technology industry within Australasia.”

As a new ASTT Councillor Mr Neate said a key aspiration for him would be to increase the number of ASTT members within South Australia, a challenge in previous years due to fewer Trenchless Technology contractors and projects in comparison to other states.

“I would like to see growth in this area within South Australia and continue to provide a point of contact for the members to the ASTT,” Mr Neate said.

HDD is the dominant trenchless technique currently used within South Australia, and Mr Neate believes this could be set to change if more education is provided to service providers, diversifying South Australia’s trenchless industry and allowing contractors to be more confident when applying trenchless techniques.

“Education to our service providers will help Trenchless Technology grow in South Australia.

The more comfortable contractors are with trenchless techniques the more work will be awarded.

Training in the operations of trenchless equipment and service locations, alongside a national standard in these areas will also create more momentum and generate more projects,” Mr Neate said.

Advice for newcomers

Mr Neate advises new industry entrants looking to enter the trenchless industry not to use short cuts in any area at all.

“Over the years I have seen operations commence and fail as a result of short cuts or budget restraints.

As with beginning any business, it is costly to commence, but if you were beginning a Trenchless Technology business today, make sure you have the correct amount of funds available and get advice from as many sources within the industry as possible.

“If you are beginning as an employee, such as an operator, put as much effort as possible into learning the necessary items to enhance your ability.

This is a lucrative industry and good operators are respected and wanted in earnest around the country, by businesses large or small,” he said.

Observing industry changes

Mr Neate has witnessed many changes during his time in the trenchless trade, the biggest surrounding the occupational health and safety aspect of the industry.

He said the safety of workers who use trenchless equipment has been the main change to the way owners of equipment and manufacturers conduct operations and development.

He also mentioned that the amount of vacuum excavation systems compared to ten years ago had transitioned from a niche product to today being a standard requirement on any HDD work site when exposing services.

Exciting developments

When it comes down to looking ahead to the future, Mr Neate said it is still HDD technology that excites him the most, especially when it comes to sharing his knowledge with contractors who may be new to the trenchless field.

“Every project our customers do that is successful is immensely gratifying for me, and there is a great fulfilment I get from individuals building their businesses thanks to trenchless equipment,” Mr Neate said.

Send this to a friend